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Next steps to lift education

Next stetps to lift-Anne Tolley.jpgWe all want children to get the skills they need to succeed, reach their full potential, and have a bright future.

That is why education is so important.

National is working hard to lift achievement in our schools. We are putting children at the heart of the education system and providing more learning options for secondary school students.

In the 2008 election campaign, National promised to address the shocking statistic that almost one in five young New Zealanders leaves school without the reading, writing, and maths skills they need.

We are delivering on our promise.

This year, we implemented National Standards in primary and intermediate schools to identify the children who are falling behind. The Standards are signposts, which show what Year 1 to 8 children should be able to achieve in reading, writing, and mathematics, and by when.

Parents will receive plain language reports on their child’s progress twice a year.

We are now taking the next steps and using National Standards to lift achievement in our schools.

Firstly, we are investing $36 million over four years to help children who are identified through National Standards as needing extra help. This money will be used to develop extra resources and programmes to help lift the achievement of those who may otherwise fall behind and drop out.

Secondly, we are moving education resources to the frontline. We are appointing at least 50 expert practitioners from the education sector to work closely with schools.

The expert practitioners will be regionally based, build strong relationships with schools, and assist teachers and principals to find ways to help their students succeed.

Some schools will need only a little help to lift achievement levels, while others will need more.

Thirdly, we are making sure that professional development for teachers and principals supports our focus on lifting student achievement.

This Government is ambitious for all children and we are determined to raise the bar for achievement for every single student in this country.

New Zealand’s education system is among the best in the world but at the same time, it leaves too many students behind.

While our secondary schooling system currently works well for students who are well suited to academic study it does not always work for students who are better suited to practical, hands-on learning and qualifications.

To address this we will open nine Trades Academies across the country next year.

Trades Academies are partnerships between schools, tertiary institutions, industry training organisations, and employers. They are aimed at young people who are ready to move beyond school but who still want to study, learn practical skills, and gain workplace experience.

Each new Trades Academy will provide 16-and 17-year-olds with an opportunity to learn, free of charge, from a range of vocational programmes such as agriculture, mechanics, and hospitality.

Students will remain enrolled at their secondary school but they may study somewhere else, like a workplace or polytechnics, for some or all of the term.

This is an innovative and flexible approach to education that will keep more young people engaged in learning longer.

Every student deserves an education system that works for them and meets their needs. The success of our young people, the strength of our communities, and the health of our economy relies on such a system.

Anne Tolley is Minister of Education

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